Fast food can be a great way to feed everyone quickly when you're on the go or you just need a break from cooking dinner, but sometimes you need to save money too. Maybe you need to feed a lot of people on a budget, or maybe you forgot to bring your lunch to work and you're trying to get something to eat with the change that you found in your car on your lunch break. Maybe you just enjoy being thrifty. Take a look at a few tricks that can help you get the most value from your fast food purchases.
Swap Out Toppings for Free
Are you craving this month's featured specialty sandwich, but you only have the cash for a burger from the discount menu? Often, condiments and toppings are free upon request, so you can adorn your plain burger with most of the flavors from today's special at a fraction of the price.
The trick is knowing which toppings will cost and which won't. Does the specialty sandwich feature fried onions or a spicy ranch sauce? Most vegetable toppings and condiments won't cost you any extra if you add them to a sandwich that doesn't normally come with them. On the other hand, meat toppings, like bacon, pepperoni, and ham usually come with an extra charge. It still might be cheaper to add these toppings to a plain value menu sandwich than to buy the specialty sandwich, but be aware that they will drive up your tab.
Peruse the Kid's Menu
If you're a hungry adult, it's easy to overlook the kid's menu. Yes, the prices are lower, but so are the sizes. But the next time that you're short on cash and still want a full-sized meal, take a close look at the kid's menu. Often you can combine two kid's menu items for about the cost of one comparable adult menu item, and you end up getting more food that way. For example, if a basket of chicken fingers contains six pieces, check the kid's menu. You may find that you can buy two kid's four-piece baskets for about the same cost, giving you more food for around the same price.
Order A La Carte
Combo meals are designed to seem like a deal, especially when you're hungry and in a hurry. When you're getting the main dish, side, and a drink for one price, and you don't stop to do the math, this can seem cheaper when compared to the three separate prices. However, researchers have found that customers order combo meals even when there's no price difference between buying the combo and buying the same things a la carte.
Researchers also found that when not ordering the combo meal, customers tended to order smaller sizes. Do you really need large fries and a large drink? Maybe you need a large drink because you're extra-thirsty, but would be fine with a small fry. Maybe you have a drink at home, and would rather just skip that and get the fries. Maybe a small order of each would do. Take the time to do the math to find out whether the combo meals at your favorite fast food place are really a deal (it helps if you check out the menu prices before you get the restaurant. The urge to order fast and keep the line moving can encourage you to just do the fastest thing, which is order a combo) and consider ordering smaller portions a la carte instead.
When you need a tasty meal quickly and at a reasonable price, fast food is often your best bet. These tips can help you get the most out of your fast food dollars. For more tips, check out places like Nancy's Hand Crafted Burger's.